On December 13, I had my last final exam for my first semester of Animal Biology. I have learned a lot of important foundational information for future courses and a lot about myself as a person. Here are some of my realizations:

1. The social experience of school is just as important as the educational experience.

Both years that I was in college, I lived in dorms and had a very small class size of approximately 40 people who I had both lectures, kennel duty, and labs with. This made making friends relatively easy for a semi-awkward person like me.

This year, I am living in an apartment with one of my friends from college. Because of the lack of closeness that I felt at school, I have not made any new friends in university. This does not bother me very much, but I found that even when my friends invited me out, I had to say no because of assignments due the following day or late night labs.

Even my relationship with Mr. BMW was impacted by the school experience. There were many weekends that I had to stay at my townhouse rather than visiting home because of the amount of schoolwork. And even when I was visiting him at home, I spent the majority of the time doing homework frantically last minute.

Hopefully this upcoming semester I will be able to spread my schoolwork out more evenly throughout the week, so that I can have a better social life.

2. I should have kept on top of the school work from the beginning for all my classes.

This is a big one. There was absolutely no reason for me to be still making study notes and class notes during the two weeks of exams. I should have just had to review my study notes and do practice questions.

Instead, I was frantically trying to finish my study notes, look up the most important information, and to do practice questions that were assigned throughout the semester. This is not a way to learn at all. This was a waste of my tuition because rather than actually take the time to learn the material, I was cramming it into my mind at the last minute. When final exams are worth 35-50% of your mark, this is not the way to study.

Next semester I need to do my best to stay on top of all my school work from the beginning. This should hopefully be easier with only four classes and none of the classes based heavily on reading in my own time (last semester I had to read and make notes on two 250+ paged books which took up a lot of my own time). I know that I will eventually fall behind but with three day weekends, a lot of time between classes during the day, and a winter break; I can hopefully be caught up by the time exams roll around.

3. My most interesting class was my elective.

The only class that I consistently stayed on top of during the semester was “Introduction to Anthropology”. This class has nothing to do with my major and was a social sciences elective. I both loved and hated this class – I found it extremely interesting but I disliked the professor and the class required the greatest workload during my personal time.

This class has shown me that if I put in the work throughout the whole semester, than I can get excellent, competitive marks in university, I just have to work for them.

4. Netflix, Hulu, and Audiobooks saved my sanity.

When trying to do school work, I find the internet to be very distracting. I will find any excuse to take a break during school work which eventually causes me to either procrastinate for hours on end or to give up on the school work all together.

This semester, my most productive days were the days spent on our couch with a TV show, movie, or Audiobook playing in the background. I learned that if it was not for Netflix or Hulu or Audiobooks, that I would have succumbed to the temptation to surf the internet the entire day and not gotten any school work done.

5. I need to develop my ideal note taking and study habits.

University is nothing like college. In college I only needed to attend lectures and labs in order to learn what the most important information is for each class. In college all of the notes were formatted relatively consistently and were easy to read. But that is not how it is in University.

In University, all lectures are formatted differently. In some classes the teachers will give you all the relative information and plenty of practice examples. In other classes, the teachers give you the general, overall picture and expect you to do all the readings to get the information.

I have found that the note taking and study habits that I developed in college will not work in university. I used to type all of my study notes but now I prefer to type out all my notes initially and then transfer the most important information by hand into a spiral notebook. During exam week, I found that even this method was inefficient for me and discovered that the best method so far is taking very condensed notes on graph paper from my previous notes.

Next semester, my goal is to fine tune my note taking habits to find one that I can keep up with consistently without it taking the extra time to make three separate sets of notes.